The United States Government has criticised the editorial board of the New York Times for supporting the legalisation of marijuana.
In an online response posted on the White House website, the Office of National Drug Control Policy (ONDCP) said the newspaper failed “to mention a cascade of public health problems associated with the increased availability of marijuana”.
Under the Obama Administration, the ONDCP has been coordinating an “unprecedented government-wide public health and public safety approach to reduce drug use and its consequences”.
Describing marijuana as a “substance far less dangerous than alcohol”, the New York Times said that the “federal government should repeal the ban on marijuana”.
In their response, the ONDCP outlined their approach to reducing drug use and its consequences which is “founded on the understanding of addiction as a disease that can be successfully prevented and treated”. The response also listed various arguments against the legalisation of marijuana, including concerns about its effects in young people.
The ONDCP cited two studies which suggest that marijuana use affects the developing brain and that it has a detrimental effect on academic achievement.
They also referred to evidence that marijuana “significantly impairs coordination and reaction time” and therefore causes dangerous driving.
The criticism comes amidst global debate on the topic of decriminalisation. In March this year a UN watchdog described decriminalising cannabis as a “misguided” initiative.
In its annual report, The International Narcotics Control Board (INCB) criticised moves to weaken drug laws around the world.
Raymond Yans, the President of the INCB, said: “Drug traffickers will choose the path of least resistance, so it is essential that global efforts to tackle the drug problem are unified.”